A Glimpse At the Terracotta Plaques by Molela

A Glimpse At the Terracotta Plaques by Molela

A small village in the Rajsamand district, Molela is situated on the banks of Banas River. The uniqueness of the village is defined by the terracotta plaques that are built here. Interestingly, it is the only place in the whole of India where the potters are involved in making terracotta plaques. These plaques are unique in design and depict votive images.

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The Molela Terracotta Plaques have been in existence for generations. They are built by the potters of Molela to cater to the tribal people who commute from Madhya Pradesh to Rajasthan every year to purchase them. The highly demanded terracotta figurines are that of Nagaraja (Snake God) and Devnarayana (Dharmaraja). When it comes to giving a final touch to the plaques, specific colors are used for particular gods. For instance, Kaladev God is painted in Blue and Goradev God is painted in Orange.

The plaques are entirely handmade and even the clay is dug locally. In order to give clay the flexibility, donkey’s manure is mixed with it in the ratio of one is to four. With the perfect mixture, a slab with the unique dome-shaped top is made. Further, its edges are raised so as to create its rim. Lastly, the potters form the hollow figures with their fingers. The hollowness in the art pieces is imperative so that they do not burst. When the pieces are adorned with the additional accessories, they are introduced to fire to eliminate the moisture from them.

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Folklore has it that once upon a time there was a blind person who was a potter by profession. One night, in his dream, God Devnarayana asked him to dig at a place and make his image. Next morning, when he woke up, he found that his sight is back and he could see everything clearly. To express his gratitude to God Devnarayana, the potter dug at the exact same place and made his image. The future generations, thus, took the craft and made it as their source of living.

The Evolution of Terracotta Plaques at Molela

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Initially, the plaques had the image of Dharamraja on his horse. However, with the passage of time, the design evolved to suit the times. Also, design depicting the life of the village, wedding processions, etc. also came into existence. The new and creative designs ensure business for the potters throughout the year.

Present Scenario

The Molela potters have been recently noticed by oodles of architects and decorators who have helped them gain much prominence in the country. As a result, their craft is now being used to ornament various Indian homes and commercial spaces.

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Above all, the same exposure has helped the potters interact with many of the players of the western market who have aided them to a great extent by undertaking the demonstration of their production techniques in the markets of Japan, Europe and the USA. To cater to the needs of the international buyers, the potters are now involved in making large plaques rather than small plaques with traditional images. Stating that the exposure has revolutionized potters’ designs, style of work and raised their living standards won’t be untrue.

Apart from interior and architecture professionals, even the Government of India has recognized the craft. The government has also awarded Master Craftsmen status to some of the potters of the region.

Indian Institute of Crafts & Design, Jaipur – one of the leading art and design colleges in India – fathom the significance of terracotta craft pieces very well. Thus, its ‘Fired Material Application’ course under undergraduates and postgraduates programs offer a comprehensive study in ceramics that includes the study of Earthenware, Stoneware, Terracotta, and Porcelain.

Apparently, what started as a dream went on to become the nation’s pride. Terracotta Plaques by Molela potters are no less than an emblem of country’s heritage and culture.